Some people like being fooled so much that when they can’t find somebody to fool them they will fool themselves. One group that fits into that category is people who somehow find themselves in leadership positions but are most definitely NOT leaders.
They have no aptitude for leading. They have no leadership training. They have no interest in helping the people they are supposed to be leading. Their only interest is in claiming whatever title and perks come with the leadership position.
They fool themselves into thinking they are actually leading when in fact they don’t even know what Authentic Leadership is. The worst part of fooling themselves is that it prevents them from growing into an actual leader.
If they were interested in actually leading they would learn the difference between managing and leading. They would learn that “things” can be managed but people cannot. They would discover that people need leadership.
That would hopefully cause them to learn the characteristics of Authentic Leadership. They may even attempt to internalize those characteristics. Those characteristics include, in no particular order…
Self-awareness. Authentic Leaders reflect on their decisions and corresponding actions. They consider their own strengths and weaknesses with the goal of continuously improving their leadership skills. They accept responsibility for their decisions. While they frequently pass on compliments to their team you will never see them pass the buck.
Empathy. Authentic Leaders know that leadership comes from the heart. The relationships they develop with their teams can go very deep. They develop those relationships using empathy, listening skills and courage.
Integrity. Strength of character is vital for an Authentic Leader. They say what they mean. People trust them because they honor their commitments. They work daily to earn the respect of their people. They understand that if their people can’t trust them then their people can’t follow them.
Judgment. Authentic Leaders have great judgment. That doesn’t mean they are correct 100% of the time but they get the big decisions right. While making judgments about people they refrain from being judgmental. Authentic Leaders know the difference between the two.
Listening Skills. Authentic Leaders know that can’t learn anything when they are talking. So they frequently listen more than they talk. They listen not only with open ears but with an open mind and an open heart. They are willing to consider ideas different from their own. They are willing to change their mind and their course when it makes sense.
Consistency. Authentic Leaders are not fickle. They make principled decisions based on their Core Values. Their people know what to expect. They know that while they may not agree with every decision the decisions are made for the benefit of the team and organization, not only the leader.
Vision. People want to know where they are being led. Authentic Leaders lead with purpose, vision and passion. They add value to the lives of the people they lead. Not only in their professional lives, but personal lives as well. They set high standards for themselves and the people they lead. They bring their vision to life in such a way that their people can see themselves in it. And they like what they see!
The greatest leadership “myth” of all is that a position or title makes someone a leader. Never never ever fool yourself into believing that myth. Leadership is serious stuff. It takes dedicated effort to develop yourself into an Authentic Leader.
The rewards for helping people reach their full potential makes that effort very worthwhile. In fact, I’d challenge you to find one Authentic Leader who would say otherwise. And if they do they might just be fooling with ya.